GHOST CRABS ET AL

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‘Hey folks! Have you got the photo yet? I’m getting pretty bored with this posing lark!’

I noticed the  perfect round holes first. 

What lived in these burrows visible across the beach? Soon after I began to catch glimpses of the elusive crustaceans as they scuttled across the sand and as if leaping, disappeared into their holes.  Impossibly so,  I felt as the crabs were far broader than its habitat. Intrigued I wondered about their appearance, colouring. Not the usual dark brown crabs from the North Sea coast, that much I could see. 

Then one morning one of the mysterious ghost crabs obligingly paused by its burrow and looked up. Its expression was priceless; slightly disarming, slightly grumpy. It stayed still. Waiting patiently as camera phone was found, put on correct setting, sun glasses removed in order to see the screen. Ready at last! The black piercing eyes were unmoving, its shell pale and almost translucent. In contrast the legs shone with gentle light golden hues, furry-like at the tips. The two claws were of uneven size; a characteristic of the ghost crabs – so named for its pale complexion and chameleon ability to blend in with its environment and the shading of the body adjusts according to the time of day.

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The first morning I was mesmerised by a flock of large birds swooping and gliding across the ocean. Five clearly visible although other days up to eighteen would fly across the water close to shore. Suddenly one dived into the ocean before quickly reappearing. What were these majestic birds? Soon I had my answer. Pelicans! I was in utter awe; before I had only seen Pelicans in zoos. It was a joy and privilege to view them on a daily basis in the wild.  Often during meal times three pelicans would pass within two metres of our balcony, their heads and wings clearly visible. An awesome overwhelming sight and we sat in silence savouring the experience.

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One particularly elegant and regal bird was a constant visitor on the shores, purposefully striding along the waters edge, its crisp white plumage gleaming in the sunlight. Always keeping its distance from each other, the little egret, a type of heron, occasionally bopped its black beak into the wet sand before moving on with its striking yellow feet. Time stood still as I watched the egret; sheer peace and harmony. The only time it seemed bothered was as the wind increased following the hurricane and then it tucked its head snuggly against the body, seeking lee within itself.

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Partly hidden under the bottom wooden stair down to the beach, the turtle’s head stretched beyond the step. Oh no! It should have returned hours earlier back to the sea but then I saw its injury, a large chunk of shell lying by its side, no doubt attacked by the seagulls during the night. My heart went out to the poor animal. After our walk it was still on the beach, but heading in the right direction. Later it had disappeared, hopefully after making its own way to the sea!

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Geckos galore! That is the only way to describe the paths around the condo building by the car park as geckos of all sizes crowded the paths. I had to keenly observe the path I walked along, particularly as the baby ones were only a cute centimetre long!

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The sunlight sparkled from this alien orb on the sand; hypnotic in its strange beauty. Was it alive? The answer I found out was no as this was the the ‘jelly’ remains of a jellyfish. Called the mesoglea, this is the last part to decompose when a jellyfish dies, usually after being torn apart by fish, turtles or rough weather. It doesn’t sting but not knowing that at the time I wasn’t taking a chance!

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Butterfly clams were a delight of tiny proportions. Visible briefly as the waves washed over the sand, the butterfly clams use the water to move around on the beach before quickly burrowing themselves again. This recurrent movement is known as the “dance of the coquina”.  Although it was difficult and rare to catch sight of the clams themselves, their shells were scattered across the beach and the child within me eagerly collected a handful of the 15-25 mm empty shells.

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Image from Google

Finally, a mystery! These little birds were a common sight on the beach, pecking away at the sand along the water’s edge. They were among our favourite animals in Florida, so cute and particularly endearing as with each oncoming wave they would dash quickly away up the beach, their little legs stepping so fast. Despite numerous conversations with other walkers along the stretch of coast we became no wiser as to what these birds were actually called. Can anyone help?  Below are my first attempt to upload my own videos from Vimeo – fingers crossed they work!

I hope you have enjoyed the visit to the animal kingdom from New Smyrna Beach; my next post will visit the bricks and mortar of the towns in the area.

Unless specified all photos copyright © Annika Perry

5 DAYS PHOTO CHALLENGE  IRON MEN AND WOODEN BOATS

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I am currently taking part in the 5 Photos – 5 days challenge after being nominated by Dorne at  https://dorneawhale.wordpress.com.

Welcome to my final (slightly delayed) photographs for this challenge. Yes, you read correctly, for this post one photograph was just not enough to tell the story, so you’re in for a treat of six or so, some  of which are over seventy years old so please forgive the quality.

Firstly, the rules are as follows:

‘Post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo. The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.  Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.’

Day 5.   Iron Men and Wooden Boats

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I tell my son his roots go back to the island where my mother was born, to the island where his great-grandparents were born and lived all their lives. I tell him that the he is as strong as the granite rocks that their house was built on. Then, looking at these photos today I think I need to add an addendum to this statement. His soul is part of the sea fished by his fore-fathers all their lives.

boat in seas.jpbMy grandfather went out fishing at the age of 14, before than he regularly helped out on the boats.

This was the time when fishing was brutal and dangerous. A time when you had to be tough physically and mentally.  My cousins, a few who are professional fishermen today, readily concede they work in relative comfort and safety, with their warm spacious cabins, kitchen and dining area and a bridge worthy of a Nasa spacecraft.

two men on boatNo such luxury for my grandfather. No heavy duty machinery to help with the lifting, just a basic winch. The physical work was unbelievably hard and raw, for days out fishing in the cold winters of the North Sea only to return to cramped conditions below deck.

Disappearing boatAnd yet, these were some of the happiest days for my grandfather. Isn’t that wonderful? Life at its simplest, most basic, living every moment to the full, every second counting and the whole experience creating close camaraderie between the fishermen.

inside cabinA museum on one island displays the history of the local fishing over the past two centuries and they have recreated the inside of one such typical boat which my grandfather owned. Talking to his great-grandchildren whilst going around the museum I saw my grandfather’s eyes shine with happiness and then glaze over with memories of time passed, people passed. His words intense, burning their vitality onto our brain.

men on deck.jpbHe spoke of days spent out at sea and once, landing with a catch in Aberdeen, only to send a telegram to his wife, no, he would not be back just yet. The fishing was again so good the following week, that there was another telegram advising of a delay in returning home and then out they sailed from Aberdeen, heading to the sea and to the herring. Four weeks later he returned home to face a few seconds of scolding from my grandmother, followed by her and the children’s joyous love and hugs.

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I would like to nominate Jo at https://restlessjo.wordpress.com to carry on this challenge. I hope she enjoys the challenge as much as I am and look forward to seeing her photographs / writing posts!

I want to thank you all for following me on this 5 day photo challenge, which has been inspiring and led me down writing and memory paths I would not have taken otherwise.

Finally, I would like to give special thanks to my mother for the title of this post. Stuck for ideas I gave her a call and she immediately gave me this title; something she thought of many years ago to describe her father and his fellow fishermen.

5 days – 5 photos Challenge Nana’s Web

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I am currently taking part in the 5 Photos – 5 days challenge after being nominated by Dorne from https://dorneawhale.wordpress.com. Below is my photo and writing for Day 4, inspired by this photo of a frost-coated spider’s web.

Firstly, the rules are as follows:

‘Post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo. The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.  Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.’

Day 4.  Nana’s Web

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‘Are you sure, Alicia?’ asks Nana dubiously, maintaining the steady rhythm of her crochet needle, then pausing for a moment as she studies my childish conviction.

‘Yes, Nana, please, let me try,’ I plead, leaning over her handiwork and studying the fine web design.

‘It’s just you’ve never shown any inclination to crochet before.’

Even I realise the truth of her observation, as the eight-year-old me is either deep into a book, playing football outside or creating adventures for my barbie dolls inside. My bike is my freedom and I think I know the little French village we now live better than anyone in my family.

‘I do want to learn though,’ I say, smiling my toothless grin which never fails!

‘Fetch my handicraft case then.’

Happily I scuttle to the spare room where my grandparents are sleeping during their visit to us. Like a leech I have stuck to their sides since their arrival. With them in the house they are making the strange and frightening all the more familiar, I just don’t want them to go, for the strangeness to return.

Back on the sofa I snuggle next to Nana, hip to hip, the two of us, legs tucked up and to the side. She hands me the unfamiliar tool and picking up another I hold them at the end and I start tapping them together as if they were toy drumsticks. I feel a shudder of frustration by my side and calmly Nana replaces the needle in my left hand to her case, her frown transforming into a smile.

‘Here, like this,’ she says, taking my right hand in hers and placing my finger towards the curved end of the needle. Next she loops the fine thread onto my fingers of my other hand and then she guides me to crochet! I am actually crocheting and with her hands now patiently showing mine what to do I manage a few patterns. Her spoken instructions drift like feathers upon my skin, soft, gentle, ticklish but unfathomable as I am awed by the magic I’m creating.

I settle down next to Nana and crochet. She’s always so at peace and content when crocheting, even though she works at lightening speed. I want to be like that and I try very hard, but it’s a slow arduous task. Raising the thread to her mouth Nana nips it off and with a swift twist round her finger she has finished. One more table cloth with its delicate beautiful design is put onto the table with the others. Crocheting was something I wanted to do so badly, honestly. I thought I could do it, but it will take weeks, months, years. I will not concede…too quickly.

So I crochet; all the time looking at Nana’s wondrous creations, the finest threads looped into amazing patterns. All from her mind. That is magic to me. I look at my rough work, then at her art. My head drops a few more angles and quiet sigh follows quiet sigh.

Suddenly the door-bell rings and my friend enters, calling out my name.

‘Nana…’ I start to say.

‘Alicia, you go and have fun with your friend,’ she replies, placing my handiwork onto her lap.

‘Thanks, see you later and I’ll finish it later,’ I promise. A promise I know and Nana knows I will never fulfil. She won’t mind and knowing Nana she will have rescued my first attempt and completed it by the time I’m home. That’s just who she is!

I would like to nominate Esther at https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com to carry on this challenge. I realise this is not her usual type of posts but if she has the time I know we would all enjoy reading her writings and seeing her photos. If she decides to go ahead, I hope she enjoys the challenge as much as I am and look forward to seeing her photographs / writing posts!

5 photos – 5 days The White Wonder

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I am currently taking part in the 5 Photos – 5 days challenge after being nominated by Dorne from https://dorneawhale.wordpress.com. Below is my photo and writing for Day 3.

Firstly, the rules are as follows:

‘Post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo.  The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.  Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.’

Day 3.  The White Wonder

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On their dainty stalks a generation of white poppies stood proud amongst the roses. Whilst some crumpled with age, their white petals curling into brown ragged decay, this pristine poppy shone in its peaceful perfect serenity.

As it quivered, almost whimsically in the breeze, I studied the petals further, furtively stroking one between my thumb and fore-finger. Art classes at Primary School came to mind and the oft used crepe-paper with its ruffled texture. Each petal over-lapped with its neighbour and in such symmetry they formed the exquisite bowl. A bold splotch marked each petal, a gentle bruise which was as if dabbed on by a child’s hand and the aqueous paint seeped unevenly upwards.

The burnished bronze stamen hovered in the centre with its almost comically bald top. Just then a bee in lumbering lethargic flight landed in the poppy and frantically, manically it bustled its way round and round the stamen. At such an awkward side-ways angle the bee at times tipped backwards before it recovered on its single-minded task.

What a gift from nature! Sublime artistry which touched my soul and that white poppy has well and truly nudged its way into my heart.

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I would like to nominate Sue at http://scvincent.com who regularly posts such stunning photos and beautiful lyrical writing to carry on this challenge. I hope she enjoys the challenge as much as I am and look forward to seeing her photographs / writing posts!

5 photos – 5 days challenge GRANITE HEART

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I have been kindly nominated by Dorne from https://dorneawhale.wordpress.com  to take part in the 5-Photos – 5 – Days Challenge.

The rules are as follows:

‘Post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo.  The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.  Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.’

Day One.  GRANITE HEART

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Is this nature’s greeting to us all?

Chiselled by wind and rain into a perfect granite heart? Whilst dry its form lays invisible, latent even, then soon the tempest rages across the islands, the darkness presses to the ground. Torrents of rain water streams down the rocks, filling the small rock pools and crevices alike. As the deluge continues thunder cracks in the sky and its bellows reverberate ferociously around the stone caverns.

Dawn glistens over the sea, peace restored and the rowan trees drip with refreshing delight as the sun scorches the ground dry. Warm to the touch the granite hums with life, as if to say, ‘Look, this is what I feel. This. Look. My Heart. My Love’.

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Many thanks to Dorne for suggesting me for this challenge. I would like to nominate Jacqui Murray at https://worddreams.wordpress.com if she would like to carry on this challenge.  I hope she enjoys it as much as I am and look forward to seeing her photographs / writing posts!

Thank you for visiting.